Sunday 6th September 2015
Last Monday saw us meeting Brian Kent. Brian is driving across the country and planting a tree in 48 states as he drives through them. He is doing this in his Nissan LEAF on his Negative Carbon US Road Trip. He intends to do the trip in 100 days and will be covering 26,219 miles in a regular, unmodified Nissan LEAF.
The idea came about after driving 25,000 miles in his Nissan LEAF totally gas free. So excited was he with this achievement that he felt that he needed to tell others. Brian considered a few approaches but in the end concluded that a cross-country road trip to spread the word was the answer. Simply driving cross-country seemed a little dry so, Brian decided to challenge himself to complete the trip carbon neutral or even, carbon negative and so the idea was born – The First Annual Negative Carbon U.S. Road Trip
To make the trip carbon negative, Brian has to plant carbon consuming trees as he makes his way across the states. To fund the tree purchases, Brian turned to Indiegogo to raise those funds and created a project at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-first-annual-negative-carbon-u-s-road-trip–2#/story Already over his target of $2,500, Brian is transparent about the surplus, “Every dollar will be spent toward planting good-quality, hardy, long-lived, climate-appropriate trees. … No Sightseeing, no advertising and no accommodation!” Brian is sleeping in his car or in his tent as he drives through the 48 states with the hope of spending as little money as possible.
He stopped in New Jersey at the home of one of our NJEAA members, Sal Cameli. There he planned to plant the tree for New Jersey. Sal is one of the corporate level sponsors of the trip.
I took along my sidekick to represent Plug In America as they are also one of the supporters.
By taking the scenic route, away from the highways, Brian is hoping to meet real people along the route rather than just the edges of the highway. By driving through small town America and stopping to plant trees he hopes that people will see that Electric Cars are definitely real and that you can travel anywhere with the right infrastructure in place. He is hoping that planting a locally sourced tree in each state that he goes through will offset any carbon used to fuel his LEAF, even if that electricity comes from a coal plant. Brian has found that local nurseries have been supportive of the project, even going as far as donating the trees!
Speaking to Brian, we asked why he was doing this? “Planting trees – nobody disagrees with that. I want people to see that the Nissan LEAF is a car that you can drive in. I drove 500 miles in one day using DCQC yesterday.” he added.
How was he finding the trip so far? “It’s very much what you might expect, I came across chargers that were not working but, people don’t realize that electricity is more available than gasoline and readily available 24/7 when gas stations are often closed. If you really get stuck, you can stop at someones house and ask them politely to plug in for a bit. I stopped at an old ladies house after going 18 miles in the wrong direction due to a missed turn. Her house was in the middle of the mountains and there was I knocking on the door in the early evening but, minutes later, I was plugged in and using her phone! It just goes to show that there are some very nice people out there who are happy to do something to support the pro-environmental work that we’re doing.”
We asked if he felt that such a journey was simply shining a light on the range limitations of EVs “Yes, but it’s about the journey not the destination, and about coming across lots of amazing people by driving on the back roads. I’m able to take lots of cool pictures as I go. Plus, I get to experience roads that most travelers miss, like one in New Hampshire that I hit at 1:58am going into Maine – there was a 17% grade for six miles on perfect tarmac, it was like a religious experience!”
“As I go, I’m collecting cool experiences and getting signatures on the roof of my car from all the people that I meet.”
As part of the trip, Brian is also giving out $2 bills to some of the people that he meets to spell the word LEAF across the country.
We wish Brian lots of luck on his journey and hope to read about the rest of his adventures along the way.
You can follow him too at https://negativecarbon.quora.com
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